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California doctor’s pain treatment linked to three patient deaths

Many professionals in the medical community would agree that treating pain is a difficult area of medicine. Anyone who has ever walked into a doctor’s office complaining of pain has probably been asked to rate their pain on a scale of one to 10, so the patient’s assessment of pain is based on subjective information. Nevertheless, it is the physician’s responsibility to treat the patient appropriately. One doctor’s failure to diagnose the symptoms of patients who were receiving too much pain medication has led to a complaint by the California Medical Board after three of his patients died.

One of the reported deaths was allegedly directly linked to medications prescribed by the doctor. A 21-year-old woman had been diagnosed with cervical cancer and was also complaining of pain in her lower back and abdomen, possibly due to a previous car accident.

According to medical records the doctor prescribed Methadone and other pain medication and wrote in his doctor’s notes that she was not sedated due to the medications.The young woman died due to an overdose of opioids.

The same doctor was investigated by a California newspaper in 2012. The result of the report found that the doctor was linked to 17 deaths due to prescription overdoses, which was the most of any other doctor in that area of California.

In addition to the allegations of overdosing, the doctor was also accused of implanting a stolen spinal cord stimulator in a patient. He also allowed the provider of the stolen device, a former employee of the manufacturer, to assist in the procedure without a medical license.

An overdose of medication can lead to a worsened condition and interrupt the normal lifestyle of a patient, even if the overdose is not fatal. A doctor’s delayed treatment or failure to diagnose the overmedication, especially when the doctor continues to provide the medication, can also mask more serious conditions, according to the California Medical Board’s complaint.

Anyone who feels that he or she or a loved one has been harmed by overmedication from a negligent physician may want to get a second opinion from another doctor.A consultation with an attorney who handles medical malpractice cases may also help determine whether the doctor who provided or failed to diagnose the overmedication is liable to the patient or his or her family for damages.

Source: Orange County Register, “Patient deaths put Huntingdon doctor’s practice on the line,” Christopher Earley, March 23, 2014



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In over 25 years of practice on the defense side of malpractice cases, Jeff Mitchell is the attorney I fear most. He takes very good cases. Jeff has the medicine and the applicable literature down cold. He is without a doubt the best cross-examiner I have ever seen. I have paid his clients a lot of money over the years.
- John M.

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